Tag Archive for '1968'

July 4, 1968. Forty years on! (An Australian perspective)

July 4 1968 – 40 years on! (An Australian perspective)

The rebellious spirit of 1968 tends to focus on events overseas in May, such as the Paris uprising by workers and students, but Australia joined this international rebellion in July, when thousands of Australians took to the streets to protest against conscription and the war in Vietnam and in solidarity with the Vietnamese people. The demonstration on July 4, 1968, in Melbourne shook Australia with both its militancy and the large numbers in attendance. The Riot Act was read and many people arrested and beaten up by the police. The previous year, protests against the Vietnam war had consisted of small silent vigils outside the US consulate. The times were truly a-changin!

I was there, as a student in my final year of high school, in my school uniform. My father marched too, with a group called “Ex-Servicemen against the War”. I remember some had their World War Two war medals and others their Returned Services Leauge badges. Similar demonstrations, though not as violent, occurred in Sydney, Canberra, and the other capital cities. A militant national movement was born and, within it, were people talking about revolution. The Labor Party, under Whitlam, had shifted position from Calwell’s unconditional demand for a withdrawal of all our troops to one of ‘holding operations’ and peace talks. This fuelled the extra-parliamentary mood. While opponents on the Right saw communist manipulation behind the new militancy and direction, the Communist Party of Australia was frequently the target of the young rebels, as it tried to moderate and control the action from above. Continue reading ‘July 4, 1968. Forty years on! (An Australian perspective)’